A Terrorist Tried to Assassinate Gen. Mattis. Mad Dog Sat Down and Had a Talk with Him

When Gen. Jim Mattis learned one summer morning that he was nearly assassinated, he did something most people wouldn’t expect. A Sunni Arab man was captured as he was planting a roadside bomb in an area that Mattis and a team of Marines passed through shortly thereafter. When told that the insurgent spoke English, he decided they should talk.

Mattis approached the insurgent, offering him a cup of coffee and a cigarette, before asking why the man tried to kill him.

The man stated that he resented foreigners being in Iraq, and decided to attack the general and the team of Marines because they were in the country. Mattis said he understood where the man was coming from, but that he would soon be headed for Abu Ghraib, the US-operated prison.

However, what the insurgent asked next came as a bit of a surprise.

“General,” asked the man, “if I am a model prisoner, do you think someday I could emigrate to America?”

According to Mattis, based on a report by We Are the Mighty, his would-be assassin’s question demonstrated that he experienced “the power of America’s inspiration.”

Mattis told the story, as well as others, to members of the Armed Forces during visits with the troops before the holidays with a purpose.

“I bring this up to you, my fine young sailors, because I want you to remember that, on our worst day, we’re still the best going, and we’re counting on you to take us to the next level,” said Mattis. “We’ve never been satisfied with where America’s at. We’re always prone to looking at the bad things, the things that aren’t working right.”

“That’s good,” he added. “It’s healthy, so long as we then roll up our sleeves and work together, together, together, to make it better.”

Mattis relayed the stories, mostly based on his personal experience, to highlight the uncertainty in the world today and the need for constant readiness.

But, he doesn’t always come to lecture. During a trip to Guantanamo Bay, he, at one point, invited everyone to “just shoot the breeze for a few minutes” with him.

During another gathering, he opened, “My name is Mattis, and I work at the Department of Defense.”

His stories show how Mattis works to connect with today’s military members, using his experiences to bridge the gap and offer support.

“Our country needs you,” said Mattis, and not just referring to their fighting capabilities. “It’s also the example you set for the country at a time it needs good role models. It needs to look at an organization that doesn’t care what gender you are; it doesn’t care what religion you are; it doesn’t care what ethnic group you are. It’s an organization that can work together.”